Made With Love
When Evie Rosen first started Warm Up America! she envisioned it as a program of neighbors helping neighbors with volunteers crocheting and knitting afghans and donating them. Today WUA volunteers stitch and contribute a variety of crocheted and knitted items, but the spirit is still the same: helping our neighbors.
The Made With Love project is a great example of how the reach of WUA has grown. With this program we literally took donated hats and scarves to the streets and distributed them to folk in need. It was such a rewarding project that we wanted to share our experiences with WUA! volunteers in the hopes that they would start similar initiatives in their own community.
Last year WUA! staff collaborated with the Dallas Yarn Bombers to stage the first Made with Love event right here in our hometown. Why tie-in with the Dallas Yarn Bombers? Because Made with Love was similar to yarn bombing. Colorful crocheted and knitted hats and scarves decorated trees and covered fences. The difference was they were not just for decoration but were for our neighbors in need to select a warm hat and scarf and take it home. Following is an outline.
We tied-in our Made With Love event to Valentine’s Day because of the symbolism of this holiday and hence the name. However, whenever the weather starts to get cold in your area is a good time to start planning a Made With Love event.
This type of project is not possible without an enthusiast group of participants. Not only to stitch the hats and scarves but to help with the distribution. If you are a guild, you have a build-in group. If it’s just yourself and maybe one other friend, appeal to your local yarn store or craft store to help publicize the project, talk to folks at work, church or school.
The organization does not have to complicated and involved. You do not have to hold meetings. You simply have to ask other crocheters and knitters to assist you in making hats and scarves and advising them of a deadline and drop off location.
How many hats and scarves to collect? Of course it depends on the number of volunteers you can inspire. Generally, start the call for donations three months in advance of the day you plan your event. For instance, if you decide to tie-in with Valentine’s Day, it’s ideal to begin your appeal in November, however, we appealed for donations after the holidays and we collected more than 100 items (Jenny…do you remember the quantity we collected??). The nice thing about collecting hats and scarves is that even if folks are busy making holiday gifts, they generally have time to whip up a hat or scarf, plus they are great projects to use leftover yarn.
Set a deadline and location for collecting the donations.
TAGGING HATS & SCARVES
An important part of Made With Love is to make the donation personal, i.e., having the name of person who made the hat and scarf attached with a note. At the WUA! website there are Made With Love Labels which can be printed out on paper, card stock or fabric, hole punched and tied to the items.
SELECTING LOCATIONS & DISPLAYING DONATIONS
Every community has at least one area that is considered disadvantaged, many have several. In Dallas, we designated four areas to display hats and scarves. Consider high traffic areas, close to bus stops, favorite parks, streets or popular grocery stores.
Fences are ideal for displaying hats and scarves because they can easily be attached or they can be tied around trees. With yarn, safety pins and scissors, you should be able to rig up an eye-catching display.
It’s important that at least one volunteer be stationed at the display(s) to explain to passers by that the items are for them to take and enjoy. Initially, people will be shy and dubious about just taking a hat or scarf but with a little encouragement they will soon be attracted to colorful, warm item and delighted to take it home.
ALERT THE MEDIA
A mention of your Made With Love project in the local media will insure a good response. WUA! has a sample press release that can be customized and emailed to local TV and radio stations
Made With Love was inspired by Chase the Chill program started by Susan Huxley in Easton, PA, which has chapters in the U.S. and Canada.